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Nurturing Emotional Intelligence in Business Leaders

The business world has seen some dramatic shifts over the past few decades. These changes include tech advancements, market globalization, and the evolving human landscape of today's workforce.

The changing labour force is a relatively new phenomenon that is transforming the way we engage with our people. Traditionally, the majority of companies hired individuals and let them integrate into the company culture. However, today's companies are finding that investing in the personal development of their people will help their businesses stay healthy and thrive. They've also discovered that high-functioning personnel are their most precious assets and that creating an inclusive workplace culture will add to their bottom line. 

For example, five generations are currently employed in the workforce, an age diversity unprecedented in recent memory. Each generation has a different base from which they were indoctrinated into the workplace. They also all have unique needs, vary in their workplace expectations, and communicate in different ways. The challenge facing today's business leaders is how to overcome these barriers to foster better workplace collaboration.

The most successful businesses with an age-diverse environment have discovered that the primary key to success is developing a team with high emotional intelligence (EQ). 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Practical knowledge used to be the primary factor in individual success. Today, however, we can easily access knowledge through mobile device technology – almost anything we want to know is right at our fingertips.

Attaining a high EQ is rooted more in empathy than in practical knowledge. It involves a balance of understanding other people, their motivations, and using both to work cooperatively with them.

Using emotional intelligence in the workplace is a relatively new practice. It first became popular in 1995 when author and journalist Daniel Goleman published his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. The book made such an impact that subsequent studies found that EQ accounted for 67% of the skills required to be an effective business leader.

Much of being a successful leader using emotional intelligence also relies on developing a heightened sense of self-awareness and understanding how to breed resilience, enthusiasm, and optimism in others. This skill requires knowing how to communicate effectively on an individual level instead of broadcasting a singular message and expecting it to resonate with everyone. 

In today's diverse workforce, that's a crucial ability to have.

5 Key Domains of Emotional Intelligence

Proponents of EQ in the workplace have identified five key domains that make up the emotional intelligence framework:

  • Self-awareness: How much do you recognize your own emotions and feelings? Identifying your strengths and limitations will help you build relationships based on mutual understanding.

  • Self-regulation: Now that you're self-aware of your emotional traits, you need to be able to keep them in check. Having excellent impulse control, staying flexible, and reacting responsibly are all hallmarks of a great leader.

  • Self-motivation: Mastering this requires a strong internal drive to reach controls, maintain quality standards, and stay optimistic when setbacks occur. People look for these traits in leaders and tend to use them to enhance their own performance. 

  • Social awareness: People can pick up on a leader's ability to sense and understand their concerns, needs, and abilities. This is where empathy comes in to build trust with your workforce and helps to keep them motivated.

  • Relationship management: Knowing how to develop and maintain strong relationships is key to collaboration, team building, and influencing others. This skill will also help you read the emotional climate of any room and lift people up in times of doubt.

Leaders tend to set the emotional tone of their company. A leader who has a habit of lashing out, listens poorly, or blames others can create a hostile, toxic workplace full of stress and anxiety. This state leads to low employee motivation, poor performance, and high turnover. 

The effect of low EQ on morale cannot be overstated, especially when your company starts to lose talented people to the competition. Adopting practices aligned with high EQ can help turn that situation around.

The Benefits of Having High-EQ Leadership

The most expensive asset in almost any business is the labour force. It only makes sense to keep your people tuned up and well-maintained like you would any other aspect of your business. It also keeps your workforce more motivated to achieve their goals and add to the company's profitability.  

Developing your team to be aware of how they interact, understand, and support one another will help nurture organic personal growth. The overall benefits to the business are cohesion, camaraderie, development, and success. Your company will also begin to attract the best talent, as high-performance individuals prefer working at organizations where they feel safe, supported, and encouraged.

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People with high emotional intelligence in the workplace can also apply their skills in other aspects of their lives, building stronger friendships, families, and communities. At SWS, we firmly believe in the power of community and understand that empowering our people in the workplace will benefit everyone both inside and outside our organization.

In other words, we know that EQ is an investment that pays dividends far beyond our four walls.

Tom Chopp is Managing Partner at SWS Warning Lights Inc. He can be reached at 905-357-0222 or tom@warninglightsinc.com.